The A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University will honor business executive James J. Buquet III (MBA ’90) as Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year and Steve Gleason (MBA ’11) as Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2017 Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards Gala.
The ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 20, at the Audubon Tea Room in New Orleans.
The Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of Year Award honors individuals who combine a history of entrepreneurial success with philanthropic generosity and service to the community. The Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes individuals who are solving social problems and meeting community needs through the use of entrepreneurial principles.
Buquet is president and CEO of Buquet Distributing Co., an Anheuser-Busch InBev distributor for Southeast Louisiana. Founded in 1953, the family-owned business wholesales over 250 different brands of beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages to nearly 1,000 accounts in South Louisiana. Buquet also serves as chairman of the board at Coastal Commerce Bank, vice chairman of Louisiana Community Bancorp and vice president, treasurer and board member of the James J. Buquet Jr. Family Foundation, which supports a wide range of philanthropic causes throughout Louisiana. He serves on the boards of many local nonprofit organizations including the Public Affairs Research Council, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and YPO Louisiana.
Former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason founded Team Gleason in 2011 after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Through the foundation, Gleason has worked to raise awareness of ALS, promote scientific research and help provide patients suffering from neuromuscular diseases with leading-edge technology, equipment and services. In July 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act into law, ensuring the availability of communication devices for individuals with ALS and other neurological disorders.
“J.J. Buquet helped grow the modest business started by his father into one of the state’s leading beverage distributors, while Steve Gleason turned his personal battle with ALS into a national campaign to improve the lives of people with neuromuscular diseases,” said Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon. “Their achievements may differ, but both J.J. and Steve embody the great spirit of entrepreneurship, and I’m most proud to honor them as our 2017 Entrepreneurs of the Year."